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Suffering from Sobriety

Lauren wrote:

I've never been very interested in drinking. I was raised in a household with an alcoholic, who had underlying problems with schizophrenia that I believe were brought to the surface via drinking. I consider it to be a rather traumatic part of my past, I was so uncomfortable at home that I eventually stopped coming home and began staying with friends. Outside of that my only encounter with alcohol was negative as well. A small group of friends were drinking, excluding me as I chose not to be a part of it. One became completely distraught and essentially began having an emotional breakdown. Of course I, being the sober one, felt like I had to deal with it.

I do consider it my past, and would like to move on from it, but I just recently turned 21, and it seems like *everybody* I know wants to drink. All of my friends and coworkers enjoy hanging out with each other outside of work - in bars, which means I often feel left out of the social circle because I think I'd be very uncomfortable in a bar being the only one not drinking, not to mention being around not just a few, but a whole lot of drunk people. I'm also very afraid of how I would behave after drinking: I'm terrified I might end up acting like my emotionally wrecked friend and scare off the very people I'm trying to be friends with.

I'm already a rather shy person, and it seems even harder to meet people when I'm not interested in alcohol, and that's all anybody wants to do. Do I keep to myself, and give up on trying to befriend the people I have to work/go to school with? Do I find a way to conquer my fear of it, and give in to their bar hobbies? How do I even do that when I'm afraid of causing a scene, I imagine drinking at home alone is not a good idea, and wouldn't give me a very good idea of how I'd act around others anyways.

Dear Lauren

First, you are not alone.

Second, some will admire you, even envy you for your choices - provided you just live your choices, not set out to make others feel guilty (not that I'm suggesting you do that; it doesn't sound like you!)

Third, changing who you are in order to 'fit in' is never a wise move. There's nothing wrong with the choice you've made; kudos to you for doing what you believe in.

Don't worry; be yourself. Just politely decline. If it makes it easier, a 'white lie' about hot flushes or coming out in spots would not be the end of the world/ But I reckon you'll be okay with the truth.

One plus of 'being a little different' is you know who your friends are - they are the ones who don't judge you. But having said that, don't be put off by a little teasing. Some 'lads' will be initially embarassed, and may cover that by teasing you. They'll settle down; once people know, it soon stops being an issue.

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